Flyline unrolled with practiced ease, dropping the feathered fake just inside the current seam. It paused motionless in the quiet water before being pulled toward the sea. A lift of the rod pulled the line into another cast. Lather, rinse and repeat.
The stream was empty save for the old silvertip. With kids grown and retirement earned, he finally gained the freedom to fish every day. How often had he longed for a day such as this? A clear stream, quiet mountains, and happy trout. It was perfect. A cutthroat slashed at the fly, and the rod tip lifted involuntarily. When the net finally ended the battle, he smiled, lifted the catch and turned to show it to…someone.
In earlier seasons of life, solitude like this was a distant dream. It was especially elusive when the kids were teething, or when he was pulling a shift selling Girl Scout cookies. Dinner dates, family vacations, and graduation parties. The stuff of fatherhood. Great memories, but with a nagging realization. Decades spent bending to the wills of others and playing it safe stripped him of the capacity to dream.
There was one dream stuffed away since boyhood that survived. Fishing whenever he wanted. Yet on the first day of his autumn season, the joy he expected in the current never materialized. Even catching this jewel of a fish brought no pleasure without someone to share it with. In fits and starts, like a mercury vapor light snapping on in the dusk, a growing awareness overshadowed him; he was a stranger even to himself.
All the years of duty allowed him to avoid his dreams. They were dangerous and foolhardy. The noise of life drowned them out. But now life was quiet and predictable…and boring. Could old archived dreams now be restored?
Perhaps, but he must hurry. Winter approaches.